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The more you fly, the greater the odds you’ll experience challenging situations like missed connections, luggage issues, equipment changes, etc. Sure, you might get a form of compensation but never what missing your kid’s recital or losing a vintage jacket is worth. Thanks to overcomplicated corporate policies, automated phone menus and the “infamous 6-8 weeks” window, sometimes it feels like more work than it’s worth it to fight the good fight. Well, here’s the story of how I went from a destroyed $397 suitcase to $150 in United credit and over $1,200 worth of TUMI gear (thanks to some good luck and the TUMI outlet).

It Started with a Sale

Sometimes the Travel Gods giveth like my first time ever flying business class. A cheap economy ticket on an overbooked flight where the status passenger ahead of me didn’t want to leave their companion back in coach. Or taketh away like last month, when my less than a year old TUMI suitcase was destroyed on a flight from Chicago to DC.

Last summer I scored this awesome TUMI suitcase on an Amazon Prime Deal (thanks Ed). I’d never owned expensive luggage, but at 60% off, it had all the features I was looking for and quickly became my favorite piece to travel with. Less than nine months and over 100,000 miles flown, my heart broke when what tumbled out of the baggage carousel at DCA was my bag: just torn open, metal bent, handle dangling on by a piece of tape.

We Don’t Cover That

After informing the baggage claim agent that “We don’t cover that” wasn’t a satisfactory comment, he informed me that the airline didn’t cover this type of damage on domestic flights but did do so on an international flights. His rationale was that if I was traveling internationally frequently then on the next flight I’d report it damaged and get what I paid for it. A whopping $397 for a bag worth more than 2x that. Plus, since TUMI provides great warranties, I’d “make out” fine for my troubles.

I called him out on attempting to commit fraud and ended up getting an apology and a $150 ETC (Electronic Travel Certificate) because of my Premier 1k status. I tried for more, but only had so much time…and fight in me.

The experience infuriated me because United was relying on TUMI to cover what should be their responsibility. There was also no offer to cover costs of getting an additional suitcase to tie me over in the mean time. Lastly, I felt sorry for anyone else who might not be a status passenger or didn’t have a bag with warranty and still had to deal with destroyed luggage and no compensation at all.

The TUMI Experience

Simply put: It. Was. Amazing. They have won a customer for life. I walked into their Tysons Corner store and the staff took care of all the paperwork to send my bag for service and walked me through the timing and steps they would take to attempt a repair. Worst case I got it back, repaired. Break even, I got a new one. Best case I’d get store credit…for full retail price: $745.

Having come straight from the airport they certainly tried to sell me another suitcase, but I didn’t exactly have $500+ to drop. A testament to their sales team, I did walk out with what is now my new favorite kit which has the see through compartment that is compliant with any security checkpoints still requiring clear bags (i.e. not TSA PreCheck eligible). Never underestimate the power of retail therapy.

This week I got an email that my bag was beyond repair and that I had a $745 gift card now to burn a hole in my pocket. First response was to head straight to the store on Michigan Ave and get a new bag just in time for my first trip to New Zealand! Then…it dawned on me. That gift card was valid at outlets too…

Outlet vs. Retail

I’m already frequently driving up to Madison, WI to work with my business partner at Matrix Coworking and there’s a TUMI Outlet (kinda) on the way. So it made perfect sense to drive on up. Plus it wasn’t like I needed another excuse to rent a car from Hertz

Ok, so if you don’t know, there are differences in products sold at outlet stores vs. available in department stores or malls. You’re welcome. When I first walked into the store I could guess there were some clear differences in product lines, but the sales were good on almost everything. I say almost everything because what looked like their classic leather collection didn’t have the classic TUMI monogram tag.

On The Hunt

I was looking for a great carry-on as I hadn’t had one for about a year and had already found a suitable replacement for a checked bag for the multiple flights I’d had since my bag was first damaged. There were options that seemed to be more retail than outlet, but all the models were made of TUMI quality. Be sure to keep an open mind about that because it’s the warranty and the service you’re buying. Who cares if someone can tell if your suitcase is a brand name or not? And even if it is, whether or not it’s retail or “outlet”?

A TUMI Gold Mine

As I suspected the TUMI Outlet was a gold mine. I got more than just a carry on. Also found a crossbody bag, a wallet AND a briefcase!

What I ended up getting:

Alpha Bravo Beale Crossbody, Blue Camoflague

So I’m obsessed with this bag because it’s BLUE CAMO! It’s also designed for tablet and smart phone use and the bottom zips open to lengthen the bag. That allows up to a 12′ tablet. I plan on using it primarily for filming/photography needs. It’s deep enough to hold the steadycam for my iPhone 7+, an iPad Pro and and extra DSLR lense.

Gusseted Card Case (Wallet), Blue Camo

Because it was only $30 and I still had $$ to burn…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alpha International Expandable Carry-on, Pewter

Finally…after three years of frequent travel…a legit carry on! #blessed 🙏🏼

Densmore Medium Top Suitcase

Because I figured that I needed an upgrade from the backpack I’ve been using for the last two years. Also, I’m all about that sleeve that you can slide the expandable handle through. 😍

 

So while not effort free, this was one of the less painful experiences I’ve had, considering all the great gear I ended up with! What are some of the best deals you’ve gotten? Or do you have a story like this where you took lemons and made a gallon of lemonade? Share with us on Twitter!

The post Over $1,200 of TUMI Gear & $150 United Credit for $397 was first published on Coworkaholic.

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